Marx-Engels Correspondence 1851

Friedrich Engels to Karl Marx in London, circa 20 July 1851

Source: Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Correspondence (Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1975). Scanned and prepared for the Marxist Internet Archive by Paul Flewers.

Dear Marx

I herewith return the documents. I like Miquel’s [1] letter. At least the fellow thinks, and he would no doubt turn out very well if he spent some time abroad. His fears about the unfavourable effect our document [2] now published will have on the democrats are no doubt quite justified in his district; but these primitive middle-peasant democrats of Lower Saxony, whose boots the Kölnische Zeitung has lately been licking, offering them an alliance, are just that kind and stand far below the philistine democrats of the big towns, by whom they are, after all, dominated. And these ordinary petty-bourgeois democrats, although obviously greatly piqued by this document, are themselves far too much squeezed and oppressed not to be much more ready, together with the big bourgeoisie, to understand the necessity of crossing the Red Sea. The fellows will resign themselves more and more to the necessity of a short reign of terror by the proletariat – after all it cannot last long, for the positive contents of the document are really so senseless that there can be no question of the permanent rule of such people or of the ultimate carrying out of such principles! The big and middle peasant of Hanover, on the other hand, who has nothing but his land, whose house, farm, barns, etc, are exposed to every danger by the prospective ruin of all the insurance companies, and who, moreover, since Ernest Augustus’ [3] time has already had a good taste of all the delights of lawful resistance – this German sturdy yeoman will take very good care not to go into the Red Sea before he has to.

According to Bermbach’s [4] letter Haupt [5] is the traitor, but I cannot believe it. At any rate this business must be investigated. Of course it does seem suspicious that, as far as I know, Haupt is still at large. The idea of a trip from Göttingen or Cologne to Hamburg will have to be dropped. What the records of the trial or the court transactions will reveal about this and when is impossible to say. If there is treason it should not be forgotten and it would be a very good thing to set an example on a suitable occasion.

I hope Daniels [6] will soon be set free; after all he is the only politically minded man in Cologne and in spite of all police surveillance he would be able to keep things moving along the right track.

To return again to the effect of our document upon the democrats. Miquel should however consider that we continuously and uninterruptedly harassed these gentlemen in writings which were after all more or less Party manifestoes. Why all this outcry then about a programme which only summarises in a very calm and, especially, a quite impersonal way what was published long ago? Did our Continental disciples deny us, and did their involvement with the democrats go further than Party policy and Party honour allowed? If the democrats raised a revolutionary clamour from sheer lack of oppositional opinion, who is responsible for the lack of oppositional opinion? Surely not we, but – and this is the most that can be said – the German Communists in Germany. And indeed that seems to be the snag. Every democrat with any intelligence must have known from the beginning what he had to expect from our Party – the document could not have contained much that was new to him. If they made a temporary alliance with the Communists they were perfectly well aware of the conditions and duration of the alliance, and it would never have occurred to anybody but Hanoverian middle peasants and lawyers to suppose that since 1850 the Communists had turned away from the principles and policy of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung. Waldeck [7] and Jacobi [8] would surely never have dreamt of such a thing. In any case, publications of this kind cannot do anything in the long run against ‘the nature of things’ or against ‘the conception of relation’, as Stirner [9] would say, and the shouting and agitation-mongering of the democrats will soon be in full swing again and they will proceed hand in hand with the Communists. And we have known all along that those fellows will be playing us dirty tricks on the day after the movement is over – no diplomacy can stop that.

On the other hand the fact that, as I assumed, small communist groups are being formed everywhere on the basis of the Manifesto [10] has given me great joy. This is just what we lacked, considering the weakness of our general staff up till now. Soldiers can always be found without trouble if the situation is ripe enough for that, but the prospect of having a general staff not consisting of Straubinger elements and allowing of a larger selection than the existing one of only twenty-five men with any kind of education is very pleasant indeed. It would be well to make a general recommendation that propaganda should be carried on everywhere among office workers. If one had to form an administration these chaps would be indispensable: they are used to hard work and intelligible book-keeping, and commerce is the only practical school for competent office clerks. Our lawyers, etc, are quite unfit for such work. What we need are clerks to keep the books and accounts, and talented, well-educated men able to draw up despatches, letters and documents. With six clerks I could organise an infinitely more simple, better arranged and more practical branch of administration than I could with sixty government councillors and financial experts. The latter cannot even write legibly and would muck up all the books so that not a soul could make head or tail of them. Seeing that one is more and more obliged to prepare for this eventuality the matter is not unimportant. Besides, office workers are used to continuous mechanical activity, they are less pretentious, less given to dawdling and it is easier to get rid of them if they are unsuitable.

The letter to Cologne has been despatched – very nicely attended to. If it does not arrive intact I don’t know what to do. As a rule it is not advisable to use Schulz’s [11] address – he is an ex-co-manager!


1. Johannes Miquel (1828-1901) – German politician, member of Communist League in 1840s, subsequently National Liberal, Prussian Minister of Finance (1890-1901) – Progress Publishers.

2. Engels refers to the First ‘Address of the Central Committee to the Communist League’, which was written by Marx and Engels in March 1850. It was confiscated by the Prussian police and published in the bourgeois press in connection with the arrest of Central Committee members of the Communist League and the preparation of the Communist trial at Cologne – Progress Publishers.

3. Ernest Augustus (1771-1851) – King of Hanover (1837-1851) – Progress Publishers.

4. Adolph Bermbach (1821-1875) – Cologne lawyer, member of Frankfurt National Assembly, witness for defence at Cologne Communist Trial (1852), later Liberal – Progress Publishers.

5. Hermann Wilhelm Haupt (1831-?) – German clerk, member of Communist League, one of the defendants at Cologne Communist Trial, betrayed Central Committee and was released by police before trial, fled to Brazil – Progress Publishers.

6. Roland Daniels (1819-1855) – German physician, member of Communist League, one of its leaders, defendant at Cologne Communist Trial, acquitted by jury, died of tuberculosis which he developed whilst in prison, friend of Marx and Engels – Progress Publishers.

7. Benedict Franz Leo Waldeck (1802-1870) – German political figure, bourgeois radical, lawyer, in 1848 one of leaders of left wing and Vice-President of Prussian National Diet, later Progressist – Progress Publishers.

8. Abraham Jacobi (1830-1919) – German physician, member of Communist League, teacher, one of the defendants at Cologne Communist Trial, was acquitted by jury but remained in prison on the charge of insulting ‘his majesty’, in 1853 fled to England, then to USA where he carried on Marxist propaganda in the press – Progress Publishers.

9. Max Stirner (Johann Caspar Schmidt, 1806-1856) – German philosopher, Young Hegelian, an ideologist of bourgeois individualism and anarchism – Progress Publishers.

10. Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei (Manifesto of the Communist Party) – Progress Publishers.

11. Louis Schulz – Cologne merchant, bourgeois democrat, publisher of Rheinische Zeitung – Progress Publishers.